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China locks down 5 million people over 2 cases of omicron; total lockdown now at 20 million

Chinese President Xi Jinping waves to deputies at the 13th National People's Congress in Beijing on Tuesday, March 20, 2018. (Lan Hongguang/Xinhua/Sipa USA/TNS)
January 12, 2022

China has forced nearly 20 million people to lockdown, confining the residents of three cities to their homes just weeks ahead of the Beijing Olympics.

Under the rules of the lockdowns, all residents are prohibited from leaving their homes and stores are required to close unless they sell necessities. According to The Associated Press, the lockdown of Anyang, a Chinese city home to 5.5 million people, was initiated on Monday in response to two reported cases of the omicron variant.

After initiating lockdown in Anyang, 58 new cases of omicron were confirmed by Tuesday morning. The city also banned non-essential vehicles from operating on public roadways.

In Xi’an, roughly 13 million people have also been locked down for almost three weeks and 1.1 million people have been locked down in Yuzhou for more than one week.

Huang Chun, a Beijing Olympics organizer responsible for disease control, said officials are relying on athletes and others to cooperate with public health measures as part of a broader effort to prevent an outbreak that could impact the Games.

“If the mass cluster transmission happens, it will impact the Games and the schedule for sure,” Huang said. “The worst scenario, if it happens, is independent of man’s will, so we leave our options open.”

With each new variant and subsequent government response comes questions about the origins of the virus.

In December, former President Donald Trump said China should be made to pay reparations for its role in the outbreak of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. Trump estimated the total cost from the pandemic would be in excess of $60 trillion.

“China has to pay, they have to do something,” Trump said. “They have to pay reparations and China doesn’t have the money to pay those reparations.”

“I believe that worldwide, I’m not just talking about the United States, but worldwide [its] $60 trillion of damage,” Trump continued. “China doesn’t have $60 trillion, but they have to do something to make up for what they’ve done. What they’ve done to the world is so horrible. It’s been horrible all over the world and it doesn’t stop.”

One month before the former president’s comments, the World Health Organization (WHO) was accused of protecting the Chinese Communist Party after naming the latest COVID-19 variant “omicron,” skipping over the next letters in the Greek alphabet: “nu” and “xi.” The president of China is Xi Jinping and WHO said “xi” was passed over to avoid “causing offense to any cultural, social, national, regional, professional or ethnic groups.”